Hen with dislocated/broken leg

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by chantychant, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. chantychant

    chantychant New Egg

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    Hello Everyone,

    I am new the forum but I have read a lot of very helpful information on BackYard Chickens while raising my two Rhode Island Red hens. My hen, Thelma, recently had a bad leg injury. I wanted to share my experience with others because I could not find much information about dislocated or broken legs in hens...mostly just in chicks.

    On Saturday Thelma suddenly was hanging her right leg. She had it bent backwards and kind of pulled up against her body. She cannot put any weight on it to walk, she balances on her wing. Her leg seemed to be in tact from the outside but the problem lies in her hip or thigh joint. My friend who works in conservation of imperiled raptors of florida made a hood with a sock, cutting a small hole for her beak we slipped it over her head and fasted it with a loose rubber band. This enabled us to inspect her leg without her moving about. You can practice this technique to subdue a nervous bird, it has a calming effect.

    We inspected the pad and toes to see if there was any cuts or infection, or signs of bumble foot... nothing. When we put Thelma on her back we could feel that her good leg moved in the correct way, it extended and contracted properly. My friend put her finger in her claw and she closed her toes around her finger which is a good sign.

    Now for the bad leg: it just seemed loose in the joint, turned the wrong direction actually. The leg seemed to be pointing down towards 3 o'clock rather than forwards at 12 o'clock. She had little strength to be able to pull it back up to her body, it kind of just hung/dragged. She was barely able to grasp a finger.

    We stood Thelma back up and i supported her chest while my friend felt the leg. In a certain area she detected that when pressure was placed Thelma reacted....good sign. This is good because she had feeling and the pressure eliciting a response would give me more information to give to the vet.

    On Sunday Thelma did not seem any better. I confined her and my other hen, made sure she had access to food and water, she could hop around enough to reach the bowls.

    This morning I drove her and Louise over to a local exotic avian vet because there was simply nothing else i could do for her. I did not want her to be in pain or heal improperly. The vet actually confirmed that Thelma broke her fibula, which caused the leg to bend out at in the wrong direction. The vet is going to have to pin the bones together and cast or spint accordingly. I asked if she could just splint but she explained that in birds, the bones will just re-break if they are not pinned properly. 'll try to add pictures if possible so you can see the angle of the leg.

    Overall, a stressful and expensive experience (upwards of $500 total) for my dear Thelma. But I couldn't help but say yes to the treatment. It is amazing how attached we get to these beautiful chickens. I care for them, they know me and cluck to me and we have a special friendship. I didn't have the heart to put her down if she could live a relatively normal life. Her leg will most likely be very stiff but she will be able to hop on it or use it as a crutch. I didn't want to take her away from her only friend, Louise.

    I hope that you never have to experience the sadness that is related to a dear chicken incurring an injury like this, but if you do i hope you bring him/her to the vet so that he/she can live a long happy life. Good luck.


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  2. chantychant

    chantychant New Egg

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  3. Melabella

    Melabella Overrun With Chickens

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    Welcome to BYC ChantyChant,

    I am sorry your first post had to be with sadness and stress. I am hoping that you made the right decision for you and Thelma.

    Any idea how she may have broken it?

    Yes, we do get attached to our animals.

    Good Luck!

    MB
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  4. chantychant

    chantychant New Egg

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    Hello Melabella and thank you. I am waiting on a call back from the vet as we speak to ensure that her quality of life will not be significantly decreased/negatively affected. I want her to be able to get around enough to fly up to roosts and scratch properly. I really don't want to even think about putting her down.

    I think she may have broken it by jumping off a roost that was too high. She had full range in the back yard so maybe she got up on the fence....not sure. But the vet and I were surprised nonetheless because it is not that often that chickens break bones. I am going to be sure to supplement her food with more calcium as she heals.

    If you or anyone out there can make suggestions for good food supplements please do.

    Thank you,
    Chante'
     
  5. Melabella

    Melabella Overrun With Chickens

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    Chante'

    You are doing the right thing checking with the vet pertaining to quality of life. This is an important pary of animal keeping and husbandry. You and only you can make the right decision about Thelma, and I can see you are a wonderful and passionate animal owner.

    Try to remember we are all here for you, I understand how tough these decisions are. Know that taking into account the things that chickens do on a daily basis are important on so many levels to them, and the inability to be able to do them, the very things you mentioned, will help you decide. As far as calcium goes, ask your vet, and also maybe feeding her some of leafy greens and yogurt to boost that. I give my girls yogurt with some raisens mixed in on occasion and they are mad for it.

    I know I speak for everyone here at BYC, we are happy to have you aboard, and sending you strength vibes and a big BYC cyber hug [​IMG]

    MB
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. chantychant

    chantychant New Egg

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    Melabella,

    Thank you for your kind and supportive words. It is reassuring to know that there are so many other passionate chicken owners that feel the same way that I do.

    My girls LOVE yogurt too, and applesauce. Pictured below: they inspected pomegranates for the first time.

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  7. Melabella

    Melabella Overrun With Chickens

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    Did they like them, I have two here, getting past freshness..was wondering if they would like them
     
  8. chantychant

    chantychant New Egg

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    They went bananas for them, once they figured out what they were!...They picked all of the seeds out until there was nothing left but the membrane and skin of the pomegranate.
     
  9. chantychant

    chantychant New Egg

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    I just spoke with the vet and she said that actually the femur is broken right above the knee (where the femur and fibula meet). Thelma is going into surgery now to have the femur pinned and put back together. Cross your fingers for her. The vet said that anesthesia is risky with chickens.
     
  10. chantychant

    chantychant New Egg

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    Good news is that Thelma pulled through! The surgery went well and she is eating, drinking and pooping. Louise was very upset and lonely and plucked a lot of feathers out while Thelma was in surgery.

    With all of the stress, neither has laid any eggs. From all of the research I have done, stress is a great factor in egg laying. Does their body make an egg regardless but they just don't push it out? Hence, are there eggs backed up in their system or do they just not make any eggs? Any advice is appreciated.

    Soon to come, I will be building a rehab chicken tractor enclosure. I will post pictures within a few days.

    Thank you.
    Chante'
     

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